Cosmetic Surgery: The Thriving and Dying Procedures

The plastic surgery equivalent of the Oscars occurs each year at about this time. Members of the two major plastic surgery organizations, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, break out their calculators and add up how many procedures they performed during the prior year.They report their numbers to their national organizations, which in turn issue press releases with great fanfare.This year’s stories discussed the increase in male cosmetic surgery and the meteoric rise in chin implants.COLUMN: The Best Wrinkle Treatments These numbers are always interesting, and reflect changing tastes and surging or faltering economies. It’s fascinating to learn what procedures have become wildly popular…and which ones are facing extinction. But I take nothing at face value. If we really look at those numbers, men’s surgical procedures were indeed up, but only 1 percent, and still down 48 percent from a decade ago. The real growth has been in nonsurgical procedures, which were up 6 percent over the year.And chin implants? Yes, they were up 10 percent over the last year, but those numbers are nowhere near the popularity of that procedure a decade ago. They’re still down 60 percent. Either chins are spontaneously getting larger or people just don’t care as much, or maybe too many were done in earlier times.It’s no secret that liposuction was the most popular procedure last year and that breast augmentations were a close second. But coming up fast in this surgical horserace was the tummy tuck. And the reason for its popularity? Baby boomers are aging and many are done having kids. And while the products of those pregnancies are all those beautiful children running around, the havoc they created while they were in your womb can’t be reversed even with hours of daily exercise. Tummy tucks tighten the loosened belly muscles and toss out the extra skin and fat. You’ll get a new belly button and a flatter tummy with this usually inpatient procedure, but the cost is a hip-to-hip scar and a few days of pain.QUIZ: Are You Happy With Your Face?Rounding out the top five procedures are eyelid lifts, a perennial favorite, and another aging baby boomer procedure, the breast lift. With pregnancy, your breast tissue enlarges and actually squeezes out some of the breast fat. After pregnancy, breast tissue returns to normal but because most women lose fat in their breasts, usually the overall size is decreased. That, combined with the overstretched skin, is a recipe for droop.COLUMN: All About Breast ProceduresA breast lift alters the skin “envelope” like a seamstress takes in a bra to make a B cup out of a C cup. Breast lifts don’t actually change the cup size, but the smaller “container” holds your volume tighter. And so you get a “push-up” bra appearance, even without a bra.  This one’s a pretty easy procedure to go through, with minimal pain afterwards, but you will have sizeable scars as a trade-off.These operations, while commonly performed, are dwarfed in popularity by the new noninvasive facial rejuvenation procedures.  Botulinum toxin, commonly known as Botox, is eight times more popular than breast augmentations. The reason is obvious—it’s an office procedure with minimal risks and relatively low cost…and it works! The other top five noninvasive procedures are hyaluronic acid injection, most commonly with Restylane and Juvederm, and laser hair removal, microdermabrasion, and intense pulsed light treatments.I suppose it’s hard to describe a procedure as “noninvasive” when your body is being invaded by dozens of needles, but these procedures are certainly less invasive than ones that slice through your body with a scalpel.So these are the popular procedures. How about the ones that were popular a decade ago—where are they now? While the media has focused on the rising popularity of those chin implants, almost three times as many were performed 15 years ago. And browlifts are half as popular, maybe because so many were not needed in the first place.But the biggest losers of them all?  Hair transplants are facing extinction, and collagen injections actually have gone extinct—the product was taken off the market earlier this year.QUIZ: Personal Plan For Your Best Body Skin

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